Monday, February 13, 2006

Is Britain showing signs of a leisure lifestyle?

Over the past five years, Britain has been coping with the highest level of obesity in its history. Perhaps a combination of following American consumption trends and a pen chance for becoming thoroughly involved with one’s life-work, inclining (declining??) towards too much tv (Corrie/ East Enders, and celebrities in jungles, on islands and in endemol) and a keen habit for elevenses (Walkers’ crisps, Mr Kipling’s cakes and a bit of Tunnock’s Mallow).

It is February 2006. The days are becoming longer, the television has finished with Pete Burns and the average British armchair viewer is currently besieged by sport, sport and more sport. We’ve seen the results of this year’s Superbowl, the football season is coming to a heightened climax, the Winter Olympics have started and the 6 Nations rugby is upon us. And we’re in the process of developing our new year’s resolutions (which I am willing to bet would have a high chance of critiquing one’s fitness levels for the year ahead).

However, I am also willing to bet that this year the average British armchair viewer will have more determination in getting up-and-out to pick up a little heard of concept called lifestyle. In essence, a lifestyle is all about you organising your life, rather than it manipulating you. And I am willing to raise this bet so that one’s lifestyle focus moving forward will include the focus of leisure.

UK gym members have grown from 5.3 million in 2002 to 6.1 million in 2004 – a 15% growth. 42 public leisure centres opened in 2001. This number rose 300% to the 124 centres that opened in 2004.

It is only 2 ½ years until the Beijing Olympics, and 6 ½ years until the London Olympics. The London Olympic committee is reviewing the possibility of achieving a similar Gold-medal target to that which the Australians achieved with the Sydney Olympics – which means that sport infrastructure over the next few years will grow exponentially in the UK. Powerleague, Goals and JJB now have close to 50 separate venues for grass-roots football.

In the past 6 months alone, Andy Murray has set up Raw-Tennis, David Beckham has set up football academies and Manchester (remember the Commonwealth games) continues its push towards eternal fitness orientation by hosting this years badminton championships. American Express has joined a local government initiative in upgrading run-down tennis courts around the UK. Today, the Daily Telegraph looks at a growing trend to use sports psychologists in the corporate sector to help staff perform better at work. And olympic rowers are taking on the high seas and rowing in the nude to the Caribbean for 40 days and 40 nights.

Our culture is changing. Thornton chocolates, Big Macs and clotted cream with scones seem to be becoming a thing of the past. Personally, I feel it is about time.


At Tuesday, 14 February, 2006, Blogger Damian said...

Endemol always sounds like a kind of medicine to me. "Go home from work, take two or three Endemol and you'll be ready for bed." Which, when you think about it, is what lots of people do. Some take Endemol with dinner.

I hope you're right, but I can't help thinking that we watch on TV is what we want to do, but can't, in real life. Which means that the leisure centres are just going to stand there, in a leisurely fashion, while people rush past to get home in time for a takeaway and some Endemol.

Nude rowing eh - maybe they should televise that. Are they totally nude? Because, you know, dangly bits and sliding seats have never been entirely compatible.

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